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Michael Funk, Maryland Vacationer And Boater, Dies From Vibrio Vulnificus Bacteria

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A 67-year-old U.S. man is dead after he contracted an infection from a deadly flesh-eating bacteria while wading in the water.

Michael Funk became infected with vibrio vulnificus last month after cleaning crab pots near his summer home in Ocean City, Md. that he was packing away until next year, according to Ocean City Today.

"He didn’t (usually) get in the water, that was the only time all summer," his widow, Marcia Funk, told the outlet.

The couple had been preparing to pack up and head back to their other home in Phoenix, Ariz., according to Ocean City Today.

michael funk
Michael Funk was 67 when he died from a flesh-eating bacteria infection in September. (Photo: WJZ/Baltimore)

Michael had an open sore on his leg when he entered the water on Sunday, Sept. 11, and by Tuesday, he started throwing up, Marcia told CBS Baltimore.

He then started experiencing severe pain in his leg and ended up in hospital. His legs swelled and his kidneys began to fail.

Doctors knew the cause — vibrio vulnificus, a bacteria found in warm ocean water.

He was flown to a shock trauma centre in Baltimore. Doctors amputated his leg, but the infection continued to spread and he was taken off life support.

He died Sept. 15, just four days after he was infected, according to the Daily Times.

Marcia told the outlet she thinks there is little information in Ocean City about the bacteria.

"It's like something out of a horror movie."

"I really feel they kept it quiet because it's a tourist resort," she said.

"It's like something out of a horror movie."

Maryland's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is looking into the incident, a spokesman told the Daily Times. But infections stemming from the bacteria aren't unheard of in that area or in the U.S.

Vibrio species sicken about 80,000 people in the country every year and kill 100, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The bacteria can also be contracted by eating raw or undercooked oysters or shellfish.

michael marcia funk
Michael and Marcia Funk spent happy summers in Ocean City, Md. (Photo: WJZ Baltimore/Screenshot)

But infections from the vibrio vulnificus strain are very rare. Health officials in Florida, where it killed 78 people between 2008 and 2015, warn beachgoers not to enter the water with open cuts.

Marcia told Ocean City Today she's still shocked by how quickly she lost her husband.

“The surgeon said if you get this, you will be an amputee in 24 hours and if that doesn’t work you’re going to be dead in 36 hours and that’s exactly what happened, it was on the money,” she said.

“He loved his crabs, he loved his boat and he loved the waters here. It’s what took his life and I still can’t get my head wrapped around it, it’s a nightmare.”

You can see more on the story in the video above.

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